[San Diego County] Trash-can salvage 101

The drill-hole method, the plastic wrap, the zip-tie, duct tape, epoxy...

Last year, NBC 7 San Diego reported that “The San Diego City Council decided [June 27] that residents will still have to pay to replace damaged trash bins, despite a county Grand Jury recommendation that the city replace the trash bins free of charge. According to the March 22 Grand Jury report, complaints about damaged trash bins have increased 25 percent over the last two years.”

David, a retired engineer, drills holes in his bins to stop cracks from worsening.

“I think the city and its employees are at fault for the cracking and breaking [of the black trash bins],” says Damien Abrams. “They should have some kind of insurance policy or warranty with the manufacturer to replace them.”

Trash cans cost up to $95 apiece ($70, plus $25 delivery), so, many residents are repairing their damaged bins.

Abrams, a 39-year-old auto-customizer from Paradise Hills, says, “I see the trash-collecting trucks [and their drivers] slam the bins and constantly drop them when returning them to the curb, and that’s why most of them are broken. When I come home from work, my trash bin is almost always on its side or back side and residents are being fined for stuff their own city workers are doing, and it’s not right.”

He recently saw a photo of David’s somewhat-normal-looking trash bin. “I’ve seen people drill multiple holes along the crack and use zip-ties crossing over in an X pattern, kinda like a stitch to hold them together.”

Screws and scrap wood hold together this cracked bin.

David, a Kensington resident in his 60s, didn’t have zip-ties in his 3/8″drilled holes at each end of a crack. An engineer by trade, he said, “[The holes] will stop the crack from spreading, and drilling at the ends of the crack spreads that stress out.”

He is content with his trash collectors because his first bin lasted ten years and his second one is going on its seventh year — thanks to his “stop drilling” process.

David said someone in his neighborhood got creative with their recycle bin, painting it black because the city provides one additional blue recycling bin for free (if the applicant and his or her address is approved).

Last year, John S. from south San Diego tried to fix the middle section of his bin with duct tape and epoxy.

“We had a problem with our trash [bin] because the claws were too powerful,” he says. “We sent photo proof to [the Environmental Services Department of the City of San Diego] and they said they will not give us a free trash can.”

Instead of driving about 25 miles north to the city office at 8353 Miramar Place for a replacement, John went to the Home Depot off Palm Avenue.

“I got some of their plastic wrapping [stretch film wrap] and black spray-paint and came back home to fix my trash can,” he said.

He wrapped the bin tightly with the wrap and then spray-painted it. “The paint didn’t stick,” he said, “so that was a waste of money.”

The following Thursday, the truck driver picked up John’s bin and when the claw mechanism put it down, the fracture line spread even more, “almost breaking it in half.”

The next week, John tried his quick-fix again (without the paint) but the weight of the trash made the bin “look all lopsided.” At 6 a.m. he was up and heard the trash truck. He said he ran outside in his pajamas to watch how the driver would handle his bin. “[The trash collector] drove right past our driveway and trash bin, and he laughed at me.”

Later that morning, John called the 858-694-7000 Environmental Services phone number and spoke to the operator. “She responded with a ‘sorry’ and said that they would come the next day to pick up the trash,” he said.

“They picked it up, but my trash can freakin’ fell apart afterwards,” he said. “Anyways, I ended up coughing up the $90 or so after all that.”

John thinks he could’ve gotten a credit toward a new bin, but he didn't know how old his old one was. The city website states “Containers within the 10 year lifespan will cost a prorated fee based on $7 per year, plus delivery charge, if applicable.”

And if John’s lid was the only thing broken, he could’ve gone to their office and picked up a new lid for free of charge, as long as he had the container serial number and address that corresponds to the bin.

March 2, 2018

San Diego Reader

By Mike Madriaga